October 19


For parents: How to support your child in language learning

By Laura Bacher

October 19, 2020

“One must not show the child how to paint. They have to figure it out for themselves.”

Children can learn a foreign language very quickly as long as they can immerse themselves in an environment that supports foreign language learning. Every new insight and every new skill triggers a storm of enthusiasm in the child’s brain. This enthusiasm about oneself and about all that is yet to be discovered is an essential fuel for further brain development. Therefore, every child learns everything that triggers hunger in him or her incredibly well.

Children should, on the one hand, observe and let our mirror neurons work for us. The same works for us adults, if we want to discover and learn something new. On the other hand, do, try and experiment by ourselves. We can and want to master it on our own. If we don’t manage it, this also contributes to the learning process because we can learn from our mistakes. This way can take a little longer, but the feeling of success is more fulfilling and learning more sustainable.

Hot tip! Make many things possible (without building up pressure). Offer your child learning materials, Brain-Friendly videos, books, learning games, radio plays, etc. Allow your child access at any time. Children learn best when they (may) decide for themselves.

Learning must be fun because education is fundamentally connected with emotions. This is even more true for children than for adults. The first “mom” usually attracts a storm of enthusiasm from new parents. This positively reinforces the word, and the toddler quickly remembers that he or she has said something right. Thus, over time, more and more words and sentences and associated emotions. Both positive and negative are imprinted into the neural network of the language center.

If experiences are connected with positive memories, we remember them more easily. If, on the other hand, we see no sense in something, our brain protests. A “no” is poison for learning processes because it suppresses the joy of the game. The physical reaction to this is the release of cortisol. It is an inhibitor with which real learning is not possible, but only a kind of conditioning like in animals’ dressage. Would you like to be treated like this? Certainly not. But there is more to it than that: what has been learned is also stored at different brain locations. If the fundamental mood is positive, the information lands in the hippocampus – optimal for complex, creative, and sustainable learning.

Hot Tip! Show interest in the progress, stories, and successes your child makes in the course of learning a foreign language. Meaningful rewards also increase motivation and the joy of learning. Every child needs time for this. You should appreciate every progress, no matter how small, to spur your child on and to build its self-confidence.

It is crucial that the children stay on it continuously. Everything we (even adults) hear for the first time, we forget after one hour already by more than half. For this reason, we have to listen to everything new at least three times so that it has a chance to be consciously processed. However, even after three repetitions, it is still far from being “ripe” for long-term memory. Only what we experience/hear/detect again and again and what is needed repeatedly remains stored in the brain for a long time. The more often we hear something – or better use it ourselves – the more comfortable we can recall the ability.

Hot Tip! If you want your child to learn a language that you cannot pass on as a first language, the offers to your child must have continuity so that the acquired knowledge can be consolidated.

Motivation comes from joy, curiosity, and positive experiences. And everything you discover and decide for yourself is more interesting for children than given games or rules.

Hot tip! Demonstrate your language enjoyment by showing interest when your child talks about the course or demonstrates his or her skills. However, it would be best if you never fell into the role of testing. This creates pressure, and then children quickly close the inner door. Or even worse, they lose the fun of learning English.

One question that is burning under the nails of parents is: “Can I, should I speak English with my child if it is not my mother tongue?

Hot tip! If the language level is not excellent (mother tongue), then by no means! And even if you have an excellent knowledge of the foreign language at mother tongue level, you should probably consider a bilingual education. After all, it’s not only the linguistic perfection that counts but also the emotional world that we let resonate when we speak. For our child, an inseparable connection is created between these feelings we convey and the language we do it in. If English is not your native language, many of these deep-rooted feelings will not be passed on to the child with the same intensity. This is even the case if the linguistic level is excellent.

Two essential activities will help you achieve a high quality of speech. Being able to speak very well requires that you have built up a certain amount of unique words that you understand. As a parent, you may have some prior knowledge of English, e.g., from school or work, you may not be sure whether speaking English with you will serve your child.

In this case, you can make sure that you permanently play a high quality of “language preserves” (e.g., mp3 from the Brain-Friendly courses) or (children’s) audiobooks day and night quietly in the background. In this way, the brain, your child’s and your own, will build synapses useful for the speech tool. This will significantly increase the quality of both your pronunciations.

Another tip is to practice choir speaking. Where do you get a choir? Very simple, use the Brain-Friendly course, start it and set the playback speed to slow. Choose the volume so that you can drown out the whole thing. And then you and your child talk along. Later, you can increase the speed and also turn down the original sound. Your subconscious will automatically match your pronunciation to that of the native speaker of the course.

In addition to the Brain-Friendly children’s language course, simple games, songs, and rhymes in the new language encourage the child to participate. Children also learn especially well from older children. In dealing with the older ones, they are also taught social tools. And this benefits both sides: Older children who play with younger ones unconsciously build “development bridges”. They become more creative, suddenly making simple games that no longer interest them more imaginative. The younger ones are spurred on by the older ones. They often have to physically, emotionally, and mentally go beyond their previous limits.

Hot tip! Offer your child other media and materials in a foreign language. These can be children’s books, radio plays, songbooks, music, or a children’s English meeting place. But beware: When teaching foreign languages to toddlers and children, fun and enjoyment must come first, not the number of new things learned. This will be worthwhile later because the child will develop a positive attitude towards foreign languages. Besides, a “learning friend” supports your child’s motivation.

Laura Bacher

About the author

Laura has been a big fan of foreign languages since her childhood. She grew up bilingual - English and German - and through international vacations, she got a taste of many other languages.

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